S.C. should expand its Medicaid

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Ralph and Bonnie Lawrance

This is in response to Sen. Greg Gregory’s fall Legislative report. We appreciate being informed about what is happening in Columbia, but we were dismayed when we read the information about the federal Medicaid Expansion Program.

This is not a political issue; it is a humanitarian issue that affects all S.C. residents. We believe the state of South Carolina is doing an injustice to the working poor and all residents of this state.

South Carolina is one of 26 states not joining the Medicaid Expansion Program. This is wrong. According to AARP statistics there are 200,000 people who fall into a coverage gap. About 51,000 of these residents are between the ages of 50 and 64, who have no health care.

One of the state’s Medicaid programs covers individuals who are aged, blind or disabled, but are not eligible because their disability checks are too high. The federal poverty level is slightly over $11,490, so if a person makes $14,000 they are not eligible for medical assistance in South Carolina. How could anyone live on $14,000 a year and afford to go to a doctor or purchase health insurance, or food, for that matter?

Gregory’s report said South Carolina increased spending for Medicaid by 24 percent. If the state accepted the Medicaid Expansion Program from the government, would the Medicaid burden on the state continue to rise? We do not think so. We think that these expenses would begin to stabilize.

Thousands of residens living in South Carolina make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, but are too poor for the insurance marketplace; consequently, they have no insurance. The federal government will pay for the expansion of Medicaid services until 2017 and then this will phase down to 90 percent by 2020. South Carolina will only pay 10 percent of the cost for that part of Medicaid forever. Residents could use the money they do not need for medical expenses and put this revenue back into the state’s economy. It is a win-win situation.

South Carolina continues to be on the bottom or top of everything bad.

South Carolina ranks 50th for the worst schools, according to the ALEC.

South Carolina ranks 41st in poverty, with 15 percent living in poverty.

South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation for obesity (27 percent of population are obese and 35.8 percent are overweight.)

South Carolina has the highest rate of diabetes and high blood pressure in the nation.

Isn’t this enough to recognize the need for taking part in the Medicaid Expansion Program?

We get it – many of the state legislators apparently don’t really care about its citizenry. We are not sure what they care about, maybe their own small-minded beliefs. Isn’t it time for the citizens of South Carolina to get together and be heard in loud and clear language in Columbia? Start calling and sending emails, tweeting and snail mail to your legislators and let them know that you don’t agree with how they are treating residents of this state.

Ralph and Bonnie Lawrance

Indian Land

Ralph and Bonnie Lawrance are Indian Land residents